I recently received two comments that reflect on the new, academic kindergarten. Actually, schooling for 5-year-olds should not be called “kindergarten.” That term was invented by Friedrich Froebel in the early 19th century and meant “a children’s garden.” It was a time to play, laugh, build, tinker, and smell flowers. No more. Now it is a time to learn to read and write and calculate.

Here is one comment:

“I am a retired early childhood/elementary teacher in PA. My 5 year old grandson (May birthday) started kindergarten this year (cut off date Sept. 1st). He is the youngest boy in the class as parents hold their summer birthday children back. He has been tested twice (along with the class) with a test used by their Reading textbook manufacturer. He improved in all 3 testing areas from September to December but still didn’t meet the criteria for reading and is being taken out of the classroom for remedial reading 3-4 times a week. He is missing classroom time or nap time. When my daughter asked the teacher if the test was scored based on age – she said no that is up to the parents (meaning – hold them back).

“I have a big problem with a curriculum that is not developmentally appropriate. If you have to hold you child back to match the curriculum then something is wrong. Or change the cut off date to January 1st (all children must be 6 by then).

“Think about this – we went to the moon on the knowledge of people who didn’t read in kindergarten. Our scientists who developed vaccines for diseases didn’t have common core math. This pushing down curriculum to lower grades is developmentally wrong and stressful and anxiety producing for kids.

“It’s all about money for the textbook and test manufacturers and politics which ties funding into scores.”

Another reader sent this comment:

“What you mention is not the k-8 system I have been experiencing. Our school is so “academic” that many “red-shirt” their kindergarteners in an attempt to give them a leg up. There’s extreme pressure to read, write, and solve math problems with pencil and paper from day one. Many parents (and teachers) are starting to finally push back, realizing that we had reached a tipping point where it’s just not possible to get any more “academic”. The kids are suffering. Child development has been ignored. The way kids learn has been ignored. All in the name of academic achievement, yet outcomes aren’t increasing. The kids were being pushed to work, afraid to fail or stray from a set path. We are slowly turning back to incorporate play-based, project-based and student driven exploration.”